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Meditations of Jade (PFRPG)
Publisher: Amora Game
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/09/2015 03:52:20

An Endzeitgeist.com review


The second pdf containing meditation feats clocks in at 6 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 2.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!


We begin this pdf as the last installment, with a recap/reprint of the base meditation feats the feats herein are based on - the pdf thus is pretty considerate and user-friendly. The feats herein are grouped in two general fluff-classes: Yin and Yang. Unless otherwise noted, the benefits only apply when under the effects of a meditation. Let's begin with the Yang-feats.


-Enter the Zone: Roll crit damage twice and take the better result, does not extend to sneak attack et al. Nice one.


-Flow Like Water: Switch between starting stances and style feats as a swift action at any point. Interesting one that dives into the grit of the rules.


-Identify Imperfection: +1 per meditation feat to identify monsters. Weak and pretty lame.


-Mind's Eyesight: Meditate as a full-round action to gain character level rounds the ability to see auras and, with time and practice (odd wording choice) can use thus aura sight and detect magic as SPs. The wording of the last sentence here is a bit redundant and wonky.


-Reckless Clarity: Combines moment of clarity-fueled rage powers and meditations. Interesting one!


-Regurgitate Poison: Ingest poison, delay its onset and spit it at a target within 15ft via a ranged touch attack. I assume that this renders ingested/injury-based poisons contact poisons for the purpose of the spit attack; though the wording is pretty precise, specifying that would have made it better still.


-Self-Reflection: 50% to determine weal or woe, with longer meditation increasing chance of successful outcome by 5% per minute. Solid, but I wouldn't spend a feat on this.


-Tummo: Ignore temperatures of up to -50° F sans having to make Fort-saves; also, meditating generates heat and may melt snow around you, drying you and your belongings. Really like this one!


The Yin-group sports 2 feats:
-Dim Step: Dimension Door between dim lights of up to your base speed. Per se cool, but odd: The spell requires a standard action to cast, while the feat does not have an activation action. The line stating the possibility of multiple jumps implies that you can jump multiple times. I assume that the jumps can be made as part of a movement, but I am not sure - a slight clarification for this per se great feat would be appreciated.


-Shadow Reflection: This one is awesome: You create an illusory double and determine a course for it - the double runs from you, following your preset course. For one ki, you can reactivate this distraction-granting feat after the initial activation. Damn cool, but it should imho specify the illusion subtype (pattern, figment?) and the initial meditation is pretty long - 1 minute, meaning that you'll mainly use this feat via ki.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are pretty good - while the rules-language does sport some minor rough edges, over all, you get the intent of the feats herein. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length.


Greg LaRose's second array of meditation feats is better than the first one: While there still are minor deviations from rules-language here and there and while some feats could use a bit of clarifications, this mops the floor with its predecessor mainly due to the fact that the benefits granted herein feel more versatile, more visually interesting and ultimately, more unique. The pdf also sports less potential problem-sources than the previous pdf.


Generally, I liked this little, inexpensive pdf and considering the difficulty of the base material and concepts attempted, this does get a bit of leeway. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, though I'll round up this time around. For the low asking price, this is worth checking out if you like the concepts.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Meditations of Jade (PFRPG)
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Legendary Paladins
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/08/2015 04:55:38

An Endzeitgeist.com review


The first of Legendary Games' class-support-centric entries in the Ultimate Plug-ins series clocks in at 42 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of introduction, 1 page SRD, 4 pages of advertisement, 1 page inside of back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 28 pages of raw content, so let's take a look!


We begin this pdf, surprisingly, not with feats or the like - instead, we get alternate class features for the paladin: Repel Evil, a replacement of smite evil, allows you to protect nearby allies by granting immediate action-activated Cha-mod to AC and saves to both pala and ally, decreasing damage taken from such foes by the pala's class level. +1/use per day every 3 levels beyond the first. Brilliant ability to represent a mechanically valid bodyguard/protector of the innocent knight - kudos!


For more offensively-minded paladins, there would also be a rather intriguing class feature: Scourges. Not merely a mirror like the antipaladin's cruelties, these constitute offensive replacements of the mercies the paladin usually receives, including providing temporary boosts to weapons, protecting allies in combat and the like. All in all, this option provides a more than well-crafted alternative to mercies that significantly enhances the appeal and versatility of the paladin class for me - and yes, the wording and balance of the abilities is sound enough for me not to waste any more breath beyond "Excellent!" on the option.


As, historically, the archetypical embodiment of Christianity's virtues it should also come as no surprise that the class options provided cover ecclesiastical vows: Basically, instead of tying monk vows to ki, we instead have an association, we have the abilities tied to lay on hands uses, with modified (thankfully) vows of poverty austerity and charity as samples. Again, this is a thematically-fitting addition to the subject matter at hand.


The pdf then goes on to introduce the 10-level Paraclete PrC, which gets d10, 2+Int skills per level, full BAB-progression, a limited array of paladin spells and 1/2 Fort-save progression. The Paraclete is intended to be open to non-paladins as well and can be best envisioned as a defensive martial character that gains some paladin-like abilities. The intriguing thing here, beyond the PrCs obvious feasibility, being that the class manages to properly depict a defensive fighter, something PFRPG is not particularly adept at - from significantly increased, scaling AoOs to better attack-interception (including retributive attacks) to delayed negative condition onset, a celestial familiar to the impressive capstone (which nets multiple immediate actions for purposes of In Harm's Way), the PrC is well-crafted and sports a code AND notes on paladin-interaction - kudos for this well-crafted PrC!


Now obviously, such a book in Pathfinder does need archetypes and indeed, there are more than a few within these pages, the first of which would be the Bloodrager Angel of Wrath. Yes, there are non-paladin archetypes herein, with the angel of wrath gaining Cha-mod to saves, but only versus evil creatures and spells/effects. Conversely, the archetype receives auras while raging that scale with your level. The class also gets smite evil at -4 levels, fueled by bloodrager rage rounds. All in all, a solid blend of paladin and bloodrager. The second non-pala-class herein that gets an archetype would be the Magus, who can now opt to become a Spell Saint, who retains the magus-spell-list, but adds healing and some stars from the paladin's (and cleric's) spell-list to the fray: While I am usually not a fan of other classes getting e.g. bless weapon or holy sword, but at least the latter is moved to 5th level. Still, the spells gained are VERY potent. The Spell Saint also receives lay on hands and mercies (at level -2) as arcana - and here, I'm a bit weary. You see, the two levels alone are nothing bad, neither are the spells and the presentation and interaction of lay on hands and the like is impressive; at the same time, the spell saint does not pay for any of these bonuses; there is no drawback to this archetype, nothing exchanged. Sure, the pala-tricks are predicated on the same resource as the regular magus tricks, but it is my firm conviction that the magus should pay for the potent pala-spells gained; particularly bless weapon and a high-crit magus build are nightmare-fuel. I consider this archetype relatively OP due to the lack of trade-off.


Obviously, most archetypes herein are about the paladin, the first of which would be the Auroran, who has light-based spells added to his spell-list, gets scaling SR instead of divine grace, may read the night sky for omen and portents as well as a scaling incorporeal form of light instead of aura of righteousness. Solid archetype. The Celestial Centurion is more interesting - instead of smite evil, he can grant allies scaling bonuses (based on level, capping at Cha-mod) and even change the bonuses granted on the fly and yes, granting teamwork feats is part of the deal, with higher levels allowing for either extended range or multiple mantles in effect. Sharing the (weaker version - nice balancing there) celestial bond, rallying troops and the banner ability complement a well-crafted archetype that may conjure forth the forces of heaven at high levels - a great commander archetype. On the more down-to-earth side of things, the Cottager would be the humble, unpretentious philanthropist. Not only can he create an aura of sanctuary/shield of faith, he also receives the option to making a healing stew that takes a bit, but heals more...and nourishes the targets. Reinforcing structures and mass lay on hands at high levels make these guys suitable for grittier games as well - kudos!


Balancing is also solid here, with channel energy being lost. One nitpick: The pdf does not specify whether the stew can be combined with mercies or not. I assume so, since it is an extension of the lay on hands ability, but clarification would still be appreciated.


The Dragon Knight is not something that particularly excites me personally - basically, you are only half as effective when smiting/lay on hands on non-dragons and replace divine health and mercies with scaling energy resistance. Beyond that, channel energy is given up for a kind of breath weapon powered by lay on hands. At mid to higher levels, the archetype gets a draconic companion and becomes exceedingly lethal while riding said beast. I'm not sold on the concept and am not too blown away by the abilities - mechanically solid, but by the numbers. Also: The archetype suffers from the nemesis-syndrome: Classes geared too much towards a creature type end up either very strong in a campaign or pretty weak, depending on the frequency of, this time, dragons.


The Heavenly Hunter once again is intriguing: The archetype can track teleports from the get-go and counter attempts to escape his wrath via magic: A very function-centric archetype, but one I enjoy - particularly in campaigns with a relatively high amount of magic, this one is awesome...oh and 11th level grants allies the ability to smite evil outsiders when the hunter expends a smite evil for this purpose...ouch!


The Holy Questioner replaces smite evil with judgments and can offensively channel energy against foes of her faith. Additionally, high levels allow for melee rerolls instead of aura of faith - nice inquisitor/paladin combo-archetype. The Verdant Knight receives modified mercy-lists/progressions, favored terrain (instead of divine health) and, at 5th level, a jungle-appropriate mount: Water buffalo, lion or styracosaurus and, as a capstone Fire resistance 20 and constant endure elements. Yes, this one is concept-wise awesome, though I wished it did slightly more with its cool premise - the abilities themselves are simply less compelling than the cool concept deserves. The final archetype would be the winter knight, who also gets favored terrain - but, more importantly, he gets blazing strike, which is a fire-themed smite-like enhancer that ignores all immunity and resistance, while also shielding against the cold. On the nipicky side, the mount-section has a problematic candidate: The winter wolf. Not only is it arguably better than the other mount options, winter wolves are intelligent...and EVIL. The capstone is a mirror of the verdant knight's one.


Beyond these archetypes, we are introduced to new spells next, with angelic steeds, teamwork feat sharing with divine bond granted companions (and a somewhat confused rules language here: "When you call your bonded creature with your divine class feature, you can cast this spell and select any one teamwork feat for which you qualify." - that should be "divine bond class feature", right?)and options to save allies at the cost of your own HP, the section is generally nice. Now personally, I dislike a spell that renders a weapon cold iron - I get the intent, but since the vulnerability towards iron stems from the anti-magic-superstition associated with it, I do cringe a bit there - though that's just me and will not feature in the final verdict. I do like the option to deal more damage at the cost of half damage to yourself. Flavor-wise, I think that causing foes to attack their allies via Sinful Suspicion should only be an inquisitor spell - while the chances are lower that non-evil characters become collateral damage to this spell's effects, it remains a possibility, which renders the spell, fluff-wise, better at home with only the inquisitor and not the paladin. Again, this is a personal opinion and will not influence the rating. Tireless Vigil, though, can be rather problematic - while tying the creature benefitting from it to a spot, its immunity to fatigue and sleep seems too much for a first level spell, even though the target becomes exhausted after the 8-hour duration. On the other side, this spell allows for some rather awesome visuals...so yeah...it gets a pass. Overall, a solid section.


The pdf closes with new paladin magic items, spanning the values 4,400 GP to 114,375 GP - and they generally are interesting: The armor of life e.g. can be infused via channel energy to offer retributive damage versus undead foolish enough to attack the wearer. The Shield of Intercession allows paladins to protect allies. I also particularly enjoyed the non-sword "holy X" items that range from warhammers to lances and adheres to enchantments similarly iconic as the holy avenger - kudos here for weapon diversification: E.g. the holy dragonslayer-lance and its exceedingly high resistance versus draconic attempts to destroy it can be considered a neat representation of the concept! Manalces that silence the wearers also should be considered interesting, particularly when escorting that nasty demonologist to his due judgment... The saddle of shared smiting, though, may be a bit too much: Beyond making natural weapons of the mount good, sharing smite with the mount can be exceedingly devastating, particularly with mounts that sport enough natural attacks.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good, i noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard with some nice artworks, though fans of Legendary Games may be familiar with some of them. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


Legendary Paladins is a good book. budoom-dish Yeah, I know, that one was bad. Sorry, I'll put on those muting manacles later. ;) Kidding aside, I was positively surprised by quite a few of the pieces of content in Jason Nelson adn Amber Scott's book - particularly most of the magic items and, surprisingly, the alternate class options and the PrC definitely are highlights for this book and justify its asking price. Now personally, I wasn't that blown away by most archetypes herein, but, again, the minor problems some have are offset by the e.g. the great Celestial Centurion archetype. Rules-language is generally VERY precise, as we've come to expect from legendary Games, and manages to convey complex concepts in a concise manner, though there are slightly more minor hiccups here than in most of LG's offerings. All in all, this book remains a good buy, with some brilliant pieces that shine, like the paladins that take them, brighter than some of its other components. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Legendary Paladins
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Priest Base Class
Publisher: Flaming Crab Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/08/2015 04:48:29

An Endzeitgeist.com review


The freshman offering by Flaming Crab Games clocks in at 28 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 24 pages of content, so let's take a look!


The priest base class gets d6, 4+Int skills, 1/2 BAB-progression, good Will-saves as well as proficiency with club, dagger, light mace, quarterstaff and stake. The priest does not get armor or shield proficiency. Off here: the priest loses spellcasting while wearing armor or shields - no increased spell failure or the like - just strap a padded armor on those hostile priests and boom: Impotent priests. Not a fan of this design decision.


Like a cleric, the priest receives an Aura (but has the (ex) not properly bolded in a minor formatting glitch) and gets Wis-based prepared spellcasting and channel energy progression like a cleric - which brings me to one point: This is an alternate class and should be designated as such to prevent multiclassing with the cleric...but I digress.


What you'll ask by now, you'll note that there needs to be something to offset the lack of martial potency the priest exhibits in comparison to the cleric. This would be the selection of a dogma: These can generally be considered to be the replacements for the respective domains and alignment-specific constraints regarding spells etc. still retain in effect. The dogmas have the same name of the domains, conveniently, and thus provide all necessary means of adapting new content to the class, which is neat indeed. Dogmas also sport dogma powers, which unless otherwise noted, are initiated as a standard action.


2nd level adds half class level to Knowledge (Arcana), (Religion), one Knowledge of the priest's choice and Linguistics and may make such checks untrained. 2nd level grants two secondary dogmas and 4th level unlocks these second dogma's powers, while the capstone makes the dogma-selection flexible on a daily basis...which is kind of lame, considering the limited array of dogmas each deity offers. The important change, though, does lie in the spontaneous conversion ability of the priest - you see, the class can spontaneously convert spells prepared into the dogma's respective granted bonus spells, providing superior spell flexibility over the regular cleric's selection - one btw. further enhanced by a wide array of subdogmas associated basically with the cleric's respective subdomain choices and yes, the dogmas sport the respective powers you'd assume.


Now, while quite a few of these dogmas are truly intriguing, at the same time, I do feel like they are not close to being universally well-balanced. You see, the basic premise of the priest is that it feels more wizard-y and thus is more spell-centric than the more martial bent of the cleric and in this regard, the class does succeed at its goal. In the fine-tuning of the class, however, some serious playtesting wouldn't have hurt the priest. The dogmas do not sport the cleric's usual spell-list, with Destruction providing fireball at 4th level and lightning bolt at 3rd level - okay, right? Well...it kind of isn't nice once you start thinking about it. The one defining weakness of the wizard and the only thing that renders the sorceror even halfway valid, is the lack of flexibility and requirement for the preparation in advance. Secondly, the cleric and druid get instant access to all divine spells and so does the priest, meaning that the relative, slightly decreased usefulness of these spells versus the superb sorc/wiz-list is offset by mere availability. Now dogmas do poach excessively among better spell-lists, so that's one component that offsets the loss of martial prowess, so far, so good. However, things get kind of ugly once you realize that you have 3 dogmas for spontaneous conversion, with some allowing you to maintain the power output of a sorceror or wizard that only specializes in a given field, while also retaining superb flexibility. The problem is evident: While high-powered campaigns may shrug this issue off, more conservatively balanced groups will not appreciate this; it's, ultimately, a balance-concern here that surpasses the payoff of the decreased martial prowess, though not in a way that necessarily renders it broken - only potentially problematic.


The pdf also comes with a broad selection of archetypes for the priest class, all of which can be considered to be among the small, function-driven type. The Fanatic replaces channel energy with scaling columns of 10-ft divine, untyped power, which is pretty nasty, as it is not subject to any means of prevention. Heretics may choose a dogma (not a subdogma) from another deity, but loses one dogma power from among her dogmas, exacerbating the above-mentioned flexibility issue, but also providing a lot of roleplaying potential in-game. The Hospitaler is the dedicated healer priest, locked into healing channels and the dogma, but also gets mercy-like anti-condition benefits to add to her channels, which is pretty powerful, but okay. The Kahuna replaces two dogmas with nature bond and the class also gets a witch hex at first level, +1 at 2nd and every even level thereafter - which is much too strong, considering the power of hexes. Worse, at 10th level, the archetype allows for the selection of a grand hex WHENEVER SHE GAINS A NEW HEX. Grand Hex. You know, the stuff witches get at 18th level...äh...lol? I do believe this ought to be major hexes, NOT grand hexes...


The very unfortunately-named Necromancer-archetype loses one secondary dogma, but obviously gets some undead-control tricks and automatically empowers all spells, spell-like abilities, etc. used to heal undead...which is nasty indeed and should probably have a daily cap. Philosophers may freely replace all dogma spells of a dogma with any spells from the sorc/wiz or cleric list and treat them as dogma spells instead, but at +1 level. This allows you to cherry pick spells. Extremely powerful...and problematic. The Sage uses Int instead of Wis and gets the benefits for skills. Additionally, instead of secondary dogma, the archetype gets one spell of the sorc/wiz-list at 2nd level and every even level thereafter, again, cherry-picking spells, but at least at the cost of most of dogma's flexibility.


The undivided priest cannot select a subdogma for her primary dogma, but gains an increased caster level or two of her primary dogma's subdogma's powers as well as adding subdogma spells to the spells known - basically, we have a variation of the flexibility the base class provides here, with a focus on subdogma spells, with the issues from the base class basically still existing in variations. Wanderers replace the primary dogmas with animal companions and they also may add spells from the druid spell list (1 at 2nd level, +1 every even level) to their arsenal in lieu of druid levels while also receiving gaining associated skill benefits. 6th level is a bit problematic, with a level 1 druid spell with a duration longer than instantaneous with a range of creature touched/personal becoming a supernatural ability on a permanent basis - while this can be problematic, the replacement for channel energy makes this still valid - in fact, this archetype is better balanced than the base class. Zealots get +1 primary dogma, but may not cast any spells not on the dogma lists - again, taking care of the balance-ramifications, though in this case, the nerf may be a bit too pronounced. The pdf closes with 4 feats: 2 uses of Channel energy for an empowered version; one feat to increase die-size of channel by one step, one feat that renders the sage's divine arcana a full-blown wildcard spell (BROKEN) and one that lets you expend 3 channels for a maximized channel - which is better than 4WFG's version of the feat with its flat 3/day limit sans taxing the resource itself.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect. Layout adheres to an elegant 2-column full-color standard and the pdf has a GORGEOUS artwork for the class - kudos to the artist! The pdf comes fully bookmarked and also sports hyperlinks to d20pfsrd.com's shop - the good ones, mind you. Finally, the book comes with a lite-version that is more tablet-friendly and also one with hidden hyperlinks - kudos there again!


Alex Abel and his Flaming Cab Games' freshman offering, the Priest, is certainly an interesting class that very much feels like an alternate class and should be declared as such; The priest does not stun you with mechanical innovation or the like, but the way in which it codifies a vast amount of dogmas and the like is an impressive feat in itself.


At the same time, this pdf does show less refinement than later Flaming Crab Games pdfs in both rules-language and the precise components of the respective rules - the value of spontaneous conversion, for example, is grossly underestimated by the class's balancing and generally, I would have really enjoyed more unique tricks - as presented, this pretty much can be considered a more wizard-like alternate class of the cleric that may work fine at some tables and break the game for more gritty/optimization-centric tables.


By no means bad, this still remains a flawed, though not terribly so, class that can easily work with some agreement between players and GMs at a given table. On the formal side, I wish this ironed out the glitches that haunt it and took the balance between dogmas and values of its benefits a bit more serious...and had a better armor-rule, which is pretty nasty. In the end, this is an okay freshman offering for the company that can still work for some tables- hence, I will rate this 2.5 stars, rounded up to 3 due to this being a freshman offering.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Priest Base Class
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The Fen of the Five-Fold Maw
Publisher: Total Party Kill Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/07/2015 02:30:44

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This massive mega-adventure clocks in at 100 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 3 pages of advertisement, leaving us with 93 pages of content, so let's take a look!


I was a backer for the KS of this module, but otherwise was in no way affiliated with the creation of this module.


Before we get into the meat of this module, let me briefly point something out - this book does sport 4 nice feats for swamp dwellers that allow for devastating uses of the terrain. The adversaries herein, often with pretty complex builds, sport statblocks more detailed than usual, meaning you won't have to do much book-switching and also sport pretty extensive (lethal!) tactics. Finally, it should be noted that panthagators, stirge swarms and carnivorous giant lily pads are included as new monsters here.


While there is a chase card-deck for use with this module, it does not require the purchase of this deck - the book does provide regular playing card substitutions, though the chase card deck does facilitate using this particular scene. The Pdf's brutal encounters sport scaling advice and the book also sports handy milestones that show a GM when the PCs may be underleveled for a particular challenge. The book also sports Laying Waste-compatible rules for the respective combat encounters - awesome!


All right, so, this being an adventure review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.


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..


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Players, seriously, don't spoil this one.


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..


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All right, still here? Now that only GMs are around, here's how we begin this module - with hooks. Surprise, right? Kidding aside, the extent of detail these hooks utilize goes beyond what you'd usually expect to see - when e.g. a mad hermit spouts a cryptic prophecy, that prophecy is not only represented as a hand-out, it is delivered in a thick vernacular/sociolect - and there is ANOTEHR hand out that sports the "translated/deciphered" version...and that's not where it ends: The book actually has a clearer, third version the PCs can glean via magic - and that is represented as a hand-out as well. If you're like me, that fact alone (and the wonderful, cryptic threat included) should be enough for you to choose this one, though the others aren't bad either.


So, the PCs are traveling to the town of Wyvernglynn, an isolated outpost of civilization amidst the damp and hostile Sorrowfen swamp - and even of their way to the place, they'll be struggling, for the very first encounter with the lizardfolk that constitute the primary antagonists herein is pretty brutal and should initiate a kind of grudge-reaction...and allow a chance for PCs to turn their tails and run, for it only gets more brutal from here on out.


The town of Wyvernglynn is fully mapped and utilizes a map fans of Raging Swan Press' Village Backdrops-series may know - perched precariously behind balustrades on an island in the midst of a river at the edge of the swamp, this place certainly is not a cozy one - indeed, the Germanic-looking populace is many things...friendly is not one of them. After the local guardsmen are done with their "We're in charge, foreigners!"-routine, the PCs are free to take sidequests and research - and indeed, the settlement has been more isolated than usual, with caravans taken out obviously being the work of the raiders the PCs encountered....which is odd, for usually, the lizardfolk stick to themselves and only partake in internal struggles. The local inn's keeper, one Ostler Giodianus, also seems to be hiding something and asks for a subtle meeting if the PCs do their job well - he confides in them, telling the PCs he's being blackmailed: His daughter is missing....and indeed, the lizardfolk have a spy in town, the lethal assassin Thrazzeem, whose build is BRUTAL. The whole research and potential capture of this potent foe is btw. depicted in lavish detail, including sample read-aloud texts for GMs less comfortable with improvisation.


But sooner or later, whether the PCs defeat, kill or ignore this supreme foe, they'll have to enter the Sorrowfen...and it is here that the module pulls no more punches: The Sorrowfen has entered my conscious as one of the most compelling, unique environments I've seen in my whole gaming carreer: With brutal terrain-based repercussions (Flight = bad idea), predators galore and strange light pointing the way, this is the single best rendition of such a terrain I've seen in a module. While the town already managed to capture the hostility and grime I love in dark fantasy modules, it is with the almost sentient Sorrowfen and its unique ecology that the module truly becomes inspiring: If the mist-choked, lethal swamp and its predators, which the PCs will navigate by moving from giant lily pad to giant lily pad (each of which may be carnivorous...) is not yet enough, if the rules-relevant limitations have not yet blown you away and driven fear into your PCs, then the encounter with the local old woman oracle may just do that.


The "kind" Ol' Mamma Nis, presumably an oracle that guides kids lost out of the swamps does make for a slightly chilling visit: She tells the PCs about a staff, unearthed from dread ruins, sunk in the swamp, which now is wielded by the lizardfolk to dread effect and asks the PCs to bring the staff to her...and yes, this is a bad idea, for in her hut, the missing daughter of Ostler is awaiting the disguised hag's tender claws. This encounter proved to be an exercise in oscillation: The Pcs will arrive with suspicions, then be taken in by her stew (If they eat it...horror later...) and perhaps, realize that something is fundamentally wrong: Oh, and much like Thrazzeem, she is a TPK Games-boss with unique tricks, lethal powers and a build that can send wimpy players crying for their momma. This is a pro-module and Ol' Mamma Nis pulls no punches. She also constitutes the single best classic hag-encounter I've seen so far, with the grisly truth hiding just beneath the surface. Brilliant.


Speaking of which, since I thoroughly have to emphasize that: The Sorrowfen itself will be the enemy for the PCs, the most lethal component: With ruthless random encounters and terrain features, its properties span multiple pages, sparing you the need to swap books, while generating a terrain that most certainly will have PCs reminiscing about that cozy dungeon crawl on the graveyard the other day. It's that good.


But the Sorrowfen is not only about random encounters, the module also sports a significant array of unique, planned encounters - the PCs have, for example, the option to establish an alliance with a tribe of grippli...or destroy this tribe's sacred totem for Ol' Mamma Nis - in either way, the PCs may leave this one with unique totems and/or a stained conscience. Within the swamp, the PCs may also seek out the half-sunken ruins from which this odd staff was taken, potentially allowing the PCs to piece together some clues from the troubled past of this item...and encounter yet more unique foes.


Sooner or later, though, the PCs will have to get to the lizardfolk settlement, where they have multiple approaches - Stealth is problematic; force as well...and if the PCs go in with a truce-flag and want to see the tribe's "god" alongside the shaman, then help them whatever patron deities they may have: For, foolhardy PCs will then stand, surrounded by lizardfolk-onlookers, on a cluster of lily-pads, when the massive, regenerating, serpentine heads with their breath weapons and regeneration break the surface - the eponymous Five-Fold Maw is a brutal, mythic boss that ranks among my favorite boss battles in any module. It's also exceedingly BRUTAL...and it's not the end. You see, violence does not help and even if the PCs manage to win, they still have to escape the lizardfolk's territory with the staff - while a brief insurrection buys them enough time to run, they'll be a long, long way from home...and a long way from either Wyvernglynn or Ol' Mamma Nis' hut.


Which brings me full circle to the beginning of this review: The aforementioned, deck-based chase is different from any you've run: You see, it's a chase than spans multiple hours, one that represents the PCs literally trying to evade capture against overwhelming odds in a terrain that is simply brutal at least 21 challenges...and it is one that can be slightly confusing due to a bit of information being lost in the final version of the module's chase rules. Thankfully, the information's out there, so for your convenience, should you choose to get this, here's what's missing:


" The Lizardfolk Horde (army) marker moves after all PCs have had their chance each turn. It will move onto the first Chase card at the end of the third turn after the PCs begin moving. It will advance one Chase card each turn automatically, unless the Chase card it is on says that it loses a turn. Many individual lizardfolk will be doggedly keeping pace with the PCs and harassing them (as represented by the Encounter cards), but if the Lizardfolk Horde marker catches up to any PC, that PC is considered killed or captured, at the GM’s discretion, and is removed from further participation in the Chase. However, that event holds up the Lizardfolk Horde marker and causes it to lose a turn, so PCs may realize that they have the option of sacrificing themselves to give the PC in possession of the staff a better chance to outrun the horde. Lost turns are cumulative with multiple PCs on the same card and cards that automatically cause the horde to lose a turn.


If at any time the players decide to end the Chase and make a last stand, the GM is free to play that battle out as s/he sees fit.


If any of the PCs successfully advance through 21 Chase cards, they have arrived at the hut of Ol’ Mamma ‘Nis. Go to that section of the adventure for information on how to run that encounter.


If the PCs elect to bypass Ol’ Mamma ‘Nis’ hut and run straight for the walls of Wyverglynn, they must successfully advance past 24 Chase cards. Go to that section of the adventure for information on running that final battle."


---and when the chase ends, the PCs will be fatigued and tired...and depending on their choices, they may have to defeat a hyper-lethal boss and/or a horde battle against the lizardfolk brave enough to hunt them to Wyvernglynn for a thoroughly compelling finale...


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are, for the most part, pretty good, though here are some minor violations of rules-language herein. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard in swampy green in the pdf, while the softcover, alas, is only black and white - which is a pity, for, quite frankly, the copious maps and the artworks herein deserve to be in color. Regarding maps: Unfortunately, the pdf does not sport the maps as big versions you can easily print out, nor are there player-friendly versions, which is another strike against the book. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. I actually recommend the pdf version over the print this time around.


Skip Twitchell and Brian Berg have created a module that sports an awesome atmosphere, but one that is also deeply flawed, the missing chase-scene information and the lack of player-friendly maps...


...


I can't do it. F*** my nitpicking routine here, it doesn't do the module justice.


...


Yes, this is a flawed book with some serious rough edges. It's also one of the best modules I've had the pleasure to run in a while. This is a downright brutal module for the pros, for the players who want a challenge; this is a module for all the fans of dark fantasy and unique locales; this is a module for everyone asking for a big, nasty wilderness module; this is a module for those of us that love the grit, the darkness, the brutal challenge that only few modules can provide.


How good is this book's prose, how awesome its atmosphere and terrain implementation, how deadly are the bosses? Well, in a lesser module, the flaws I mentioned would have me smash the book to smithereens and detract at the very least two stars. I can't bring myself to do this to this module. Even in TPK Games' canon of awesome, deadly modules, this one stands out. Much like Frog God Games' Cyclopean Deeps Volume I, this may not be a mechanically perfect module, but it more than makes up for it in its strengths - the bosses rank among the best I've seen in a published module. The Sorrowfen is downright awesome in its visuals and nasty properties. The whole, concise atmosphere generated and the savage, relentless, unforgiving, yet fair difficulty make this a module that, in spite of its glitches, belongs into the library of the discerning GM...or at least into the library of some of you out there.


If you're very picky regarding the aforementioned issues, then give this a pass, but know that you'll be missing out on a very GM-friendly, challenging, awesome module, perhaps even the best swamp module currently available for PFRPG. The fact that even an anal-retentive, nitpicky bastard like me takes a look at the book, scowls, run it, and then says "Screw it, this is awesome!" should tell you something about how good this damn beast is. I've been struggling with myself here - on the one hand, I should rate this down for its short-comings; on the other hand, I want to keep on gushing about it for even more pages than I already have. Ultimately, what made me make up my mind is the fact that the map-issue, while annoying, is not as bad as with some other modules: Being mostly site-driven and happening beyond the confines of a battlemap, their importance is somewhat diminished. Also, this is a module, not a crunch book, so mechanical precision is a bit less important than in a crunch book.


How to rate this, then? You may well call me a hypocrite, seeing how rigorous I usually crack down on the lack of player-friendly maps or issues like chase-info missing mentioned above. I am all too aware that I ought to penalize the module for this. But I am also beholden to my passions and it is this passion (or so I hope!) that I manage to transport in some of my reviews, the passion which I hope, from the bottom of my heart, you, dear readers, share. I am very passionate about this module. I absolutely adore this book. I love it. It's absolutely glorious, evocative, challenging, well-written and unique. It's an accumulation of almost everything I love in a module and a prime example of the level of difficulty and variability I look for in such a beast. In short - I can't bring myself to rate it down. I really, really can't. If you're like me and, at the end of the day, want a book written in great prose, unique environments, deadly foes - the whole deal - then this is 5 stars + seal of approval for you. As a reviewer, I need to scratch that a bit as a concession to the book's objective flaws, no matter how great I think this is - hence, my official final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars + seal of approval...and yes, I'm rounding up here. ;)


One final note: With more editing, player-friendly maps and sans the chase-glitch, this would have made my Top Ten-list of 2015. I wouldn't even have had to think about whether to include it or not. Thank you for bearing with me through this rambling diatribe...now book your trip to the Sorrowfen and watch players gaze in wide-eyed fear at what you throw at them...


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Fen of the Five-Fold Maw
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Campaign Events: Masquerade Ball
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/07/2015 02:27:41

An Endzeitgeist.com review


The first installment of Raging Swan Press' new campaign events-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let's take a look!


So, masquerade balls there are a couple of scenes in a given GM's arsenal that boil down to being simply awesome and memorable - in my case, one such experience was a time loop masquerade ball that required the PCs to not be noticed by all previous incarnations of their previous runs of the time loop. The adventure was one of the most challenging I've ever run, not simply because of the time loop premise, but also because of the ridiculous level of detail required for the proper depiction of a masquerade ball in the first place.


If I had had this pdf back then, I would have had a much easier job - for example, we begin with a 50-entry table of sample masks - from elegant masks of lions to veined marble make-up, the list is diverse and cool - but we're talking fantasy here. Hence, the second table, covering 50 entries as well, sports magical masks for the truly decadent: From snapping crocodile's jaws to live squids you can wear or multi-hued bubbles, it is here that the book lights a whole array of idea-fireworks, with unique enchantments and mechanical benefits just being asked to be added to these masks.


Beyond that, though, two more tables provide the finery we really want to see - 50 entries for male and female costumes span the gamut of inspiring ideas, from dresses made all of pearls to insubordinate duplicates of the regent's attire and military attires as well as stylized dragon costumes, this section is downright awesome.


Of course, anyone that has tried to run a masquerade ball knows that, while costumes and the like are interesting, what truly makes such an event difficult, ultimately boils down to the number of people required to properly pull the event off - and here, a massive, fluff-only table of 50 entries provides in spades - from half-orc wizards on staff to use mending and prestidigitation to fix costumes on the fly to disguised gnomes in the clothes of a roast pig, decadence and fun seep from each and every entry - and yes, there are obvious foils included in here.


Conclusions:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press' elegant, printer-friendly 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Additionally, the pdf comes with two versions - one optimized for the screen and one for printer-use.


Kat Evan's Masquerade Ball is a pdf I did not look forward to reviewing, mainly because I do believe that masquerade balls are hard to capture in their style - and on one hand, this pdf spectacularly succeeds: As a dressing-toolkit, this is pretty much the apex of what can ask from a pdf on the subject matter and it is a great buy. At the same time, I do believe that the subject matter covered would have vastly benefited from a more in-depth coverage. What Do I mean by this? Disguise-DCs. Sample entertainments. Sample dances and mini-games - the whole party-shenanigans, would have made this a pdf I'd use for years to come, a book of pure awesomeness. A more thorough blending of fluff and crunch with GM-cheat-sheet-tricks and mechanical tidbits could have made this a prime candidate for my Top Ten of 2015.


At the same time, I'd be an unfair reviewer, if I did not acknowledge the level of quality and detail of the fluffy bits that are here - and these still warrant a final verdict of 5 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Campaign Events: Masquerade Ball
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The Sharpe Initiative: Earthgouger
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/07/2015 02:25:36

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This installment of 13th Age Monthly clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, leaving us with 9 pages of content, so let's...wait.


Wait a second. This is actually a small module, so from here on out reign the SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.


...


..


.


All right, only GMs here? Great! Remember my review of "The Strangling Sea"? Well, the PCs may have made the acquaintance of notoriously unreliable and downright nasty inventor genius Inigo Sharpe. Well, the dwarven explorer Greta Silvervein has found something - a massive construct, but none of the regular folks knows how to get it going. Enter the famously obnoxious genius, who promptly deciphered the thing to be one of the missing earthgougers from the 10th age. With trademark arrogance, Inigo botched the activation of the construct, slurring his umlauts and the resulting catastrophe was only exacerbated by the derro entering the fray.


So that's the task - get rid of the derro-issue and then reactivate (properly!) the earthgouger and move it back to the tender care of Greta. Sounds simple, right? Alas, nothing is too simple when the derro are involved - from traps to their own insane tactics - you see, the problem is that, even with more care, the machine is hard to control...and more derro and a vast chasm loom alongside a special boss, depending on the primary icon that employed the PCs - servants of the archmage get a different boss than those of the dwarven lord - nice! (Plus, sadistic GMs can throw more than one boss at the PCs...)


It should also be noted that veterans of "The Strangling Sea" will have a some nice Easter-eggs and follow-up options going on here.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to 13th Age's 2-column full-color standard with nice full-color artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


Cal Moore's short scenario here is a nice, fun romp with some pretty cool adversaries and a fun, fantastical mission/back-drop. Particularly if players have played "The Strangling Sea," at which point the small nods and follow-ups become some much more rewarding. That being said, I really wished this sported as least a small schematic map of the area/earth-gouger - while the dimensions become apparent from the text, the fact remains that this nice module felt a bit more opaque than it would have been with a proper map.


This does not make this brief module bad, mind you - though I wished the non-combat challenges and piloting the earthgouger would have gotten a more detailed success/failure/control-mechanism. All in all, a nice, inexpensive module well worth of a final verdict of 4 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Sharpe Initiative: Earthgouger
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Revelry in Torth
Publisher: Kort'thalis Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/04/2015 03:47:41

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This module clocks in at 44 pages, 1 page front cover, 4 pages editorial, 1 page inside of back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 37 pages of content, so let's check this out!


This book was moved forward in my review-queue due to me receiving a print copy in exchange for an unbiased and critical review.


All right, so, from the get-go, let me make one thing perfectly clear: This is not a module in the traditional sense...or rather, it actually is. What do I mean with this cryptic statement? Basically, this is a wide open sandbox, like some of the best Frog God Games, Lamentations of the Flame Princess or Raging Swan Press offerings - what we have here is basically a mini campaign setting, suffuses with encounters and adventure hooks to develop and pursue - and it is actually better off for it, but more on that later; first, let's discuss why this setting is unique.


The world of Torth is not a nice place - beyond Kort'thalis Publishing's emphasis on the mythos and its dark deity-like entities, the first thing a forlorn traveler will note as he arrives on the dunes of these wastelands is the absence of the sun, for, generations ago, the most powerful magic-practitioners of the world utilized the very sun to annihilate the android uprising that sought to end mankind; ever since, Torth's eternal night is illuminated by the 7 moons, which also feature in the way locals measure the time. With the catastrophic cataclysm, the dragons of old vanished and the world would have been doomed to suffer an eternal winter, but thankfully, the planet houses vast catacombs wherein arcano-technical supercomputers generate sufficient heat to stave off this dire fate...at least for now. With civilization in ruins, new settlements have arisen from the bleak sands and one of said cities would be Aryd's End, where the lion's share of this module takes place.


If that sounds awfully scifi for you, then probably because it is...or can be. The emphasis on the technological aspects is subdued enough and one can, should one choose to, alternatively run this as a straight homage of Robert E. Howard-esque Sword & Sorcery - indeed, the cover's rendition of the ruling trio of Aryd's End should drive home pretty well that, beyond the dark aspects in both theme and world-building, this very much could be a place you can find in a given novel by the old greats f the eminent genre. From a fluff-perspective, the general sense of immersion is significantly enhanced by the inclusion of well-structured information on what current Torthians know, which also includes the aforementioned means of tracking time and popular sayings that help depict the natives with sufficient local color.


Compared to other Kort'thalis Publishing-supplements, the supplemental rules provided do feel more streamlined and refined: Two character kits/archetypes are provided with the Shadow Priest and the Wandering Minstrel. Both have in common that they no longer focus exclusively on a narrative function and instead manage to provide abilities (like permanently turning a foe into a shadow, destroying him...until the intervention of another shadow priest...) that drive narratives in an intriguing manner, while also sporting more details: AoEs and a more precise rules-language show the growth of the author. Beyond that, it is my happy duty to state that, beyond OSR, 5th Edition aficionados will have an easy time converting and running this one: With Dis-/advantage and similar terminology strewn in, conversion work is rather simple and fast, particularly regarding the numerous storied magical items featured in this book, which coincidentally also constitute one of my personal highlights in this book: Take e.g. the trident sandstorm, once aligned with the seas, that can now control the very sands. The new spells provided herein suffer, comparatively, a bit from more ambiguity, but radical subjectivism's option to eliminate an item from the perception of those subject to the spell, to give you one example, is pretty awesome.


Now before I go into the spoilerific sections of this review, let me talk about one component: This module is billed as "mature content" and I understand why: Much like the traditional Sword and Sorcery genre, it is a brutal, dark world that is depicted here. At the same time, I never considered the offering excessive in either violence or sexual content - none of the artworks, for example, depict nudity. In fact, most music videos nowadays sport more. As a German, I do not share the experience of cultural sexual stigmatization, but still - I quite frankly have wracked my brain for quite a while and couldn't come up with anything within these pages that could be considered offensive. Sure, it's dark, but Game of Thrones is literally more violent and sexual. Perhaps I'm odd, but I've grown up with Conan-tales and comics and as such, am of the firm conviction that this module should not be considered problematic in any regard. So no, we have neither offensive, nor gratuitous sexuality or violence here - they are themes, of course, but the module handles the whole matter tastefully.


All right, that should cover the basics, onwards to the SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.


...


..


.


All right, still here? Great! This sandbox assumes the PCs will enter Aryd's End via one way or another - and, in its dust-choked streets, it will be only a matter of time before the PCs are drawn into the Byzantine power-games that are played here: 4 tribes with customs etc., one more savage/problematic than the other, esoteric schools and 3 secret societies follow their agendas in the streets and behind silken curtains, as the masked revelers of the city follow they debaucheries and excesses. Within the alleys and roads of Aryd's End, mysterious stranger with golden masks may warn you of Shaitan's brotherhood; you may witness (or even participate) in the conspiracy-driven murder of a noble and be framed for it - and there is so much more to find. The rumor-table sport hooks galore and beyond the walls, giant oozing slug-brains that enslave minds, scorpion-squids and lethal tentacle-armed gorillas await foolish adventurers as just the perfect supplement to their diet.


The streets of Aryd's End are no less dangerous, though - suffused in the tradition of Lovecratiana, the influence of the mythos, from the Yellow King's court to Carcosa, can be felt within the post-apocalyptic streets - but only if you know, where to look. Depending on your tastes, the very world may be o a timer, as a mad sculptor seeks to complete a statue that will usher in the rise of the dread Old Ones and end the world of Torth...and trying to stop him may see you killed in a horrible way...or not. Taking a note from how magic is handled in traditional Sword & Sorcery, there is also the intriguing local drug market to contemplate - where vastly improved arcane power is just one highly addictive drug away...certainly, said drugs have catastrophic repercussions sooner or later, but judging from the former adventurer-junkies, not everyone with magical talent sports common sense.


Speaking of the tropes of classic Sword & Sorcery - it is only a matter of time before capable adventurers like the PCs have to come before barbarian king Dran, his beautiful partner, the seductive Yara (who doesn't wish to ruin her figure - hence her hand-maiden is pregnant...with what may or may not be Dran's child) and the mysterious shadow priest Viraj - let's hope the PCs heed the local custom and attend the audience appropriately blood-spattered and they may actually survive the powerplay going on between the powerful figures at the top of Aryd's End's food-chain...heck, they may even survive a dark elf assassination attempt, if they're capable and lucky! And sometime in the future, who's not to say that they may sit upon that throne themselves, much like a certain Cimmerian?


Perhaps the PCs will also have their chance to stop a berserking head of a summoned elder deity, sent as a magical assassin for some creatures...and in the desert, they may either test their mettle and wits or even begin a relationship with none other than the beautiful Idryssa the Worm Soceress. Of course, more heroically-inclined adventurers may test their mettle against the kidnapping plan of one of the aforementioned secret societies out in the desert...or they may inadvertently awaken the echo of one of the legendary 7 casters of old, upsetting the power-dynamic of the whole region - but all of that, and more, is ultimately up to the players and GM: The seeds are here; the details will happen.


3 well-drawn maps of mini-dungeons partially used in the hooks of this sandbox are btw. also provided in this book.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good, both on a formal and rules-language level, they are more precise than what I've read before by Kort'thalis Publishing - kudos! Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard and the book sports copious absolutely stunning b/w-images strewn through the book. The pdf version f this book has no bookmarks, which is a significant comfort-detriment - I strongly encourage you to get the softcover instead: Beyond the glossy covers, it is a nice book to have in print...and more comfortable to use that way. As mentioned, the cartography provided for the mini-dungeons is nice.


The previous offerings I've read by author Venger As'Nas Satanis are suffused and informed by a thoroughly old-school adherence to heavy-metal aesthetics, spiked with copious amounts of Lovecraftiana, Sword & Sorcery and gonzo weirdness. The latter component is less pronounced in this one: Basically, "Revelry in Torth" is a pretty serious setting/module that could have featured in just about any of the classic tales: The writing is superb, the local color sufficiently raw and the vast plethora of things to do, of threads to explore, renders this book significantly more useful than what you'd expect from a book of its size, with the eye-winking here mostly pertaining nods towards the mythos and other classic tales - like in the original stories.


The blending of subdued sci-fantasy aesthetics, mythos, Conan-esque imagery and post-apocalyptic set-ups is sufficiently unique to lend this its own identity, without restricting its adaptability regarding e.g. the Conan-setting, the World of Xoth or even more mundane fantasy worlds, though, in the latter case, I'd still advise for a plane/world/time-jump: Much of the awesomeness of this book derives from the excellent ideas and local color provided for Aryd's End.


So no complaints apart from the pdf's missing bookmarks? Unfortunately, no - there is one thing I truly would have wished for: A map of Aryd's End. As depicted, and this may be intentional, the city and its revelries feel opaque, hazy, dream-like, almost - a bit like an opium-fueled nightmare between wonder and horror, ecstasy and terror. While a proper map would have somewhat lessened this component, it would have also helped GMs envision the sandbox as a whole, helped kicking off the sandboxy aspects by giving the map to the players and asking: Where do you go from here? Now the good thing is that this is intended as the first trip to Torth, with at least two more waiting somewhere down the line - so we may yet see that.


Still, do not let this deter you from checking this out - even as a scavenging ground of fluff, this is worth the fair asking price: The visuals conjured forth are intriguing and unique and any fan of dark fantasy and sword and sorcery in particular can look forward to this book being a great read. My final verdict hence will clock in at 5 stars, omitting my seal of approval only due to the lack of a city's map. For the electronic version, please detract a star due to the lack of bookmarks...I really recommend the print over the electronic version for this one.This module clocks in at 44 pages, 1 page front cover, 4 pages editorial, 1 page inside of back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 37 pages of content, so let's check this out!


This book was moved forward in my review-queue due to me receiving a print copy in exchange for an unbiased and critical review.


All right, so, from the get-go, let me make one thing perfectly clear: This is not a module in the traditional sense...or rather, it actually is. What do I mean with this cryptic statement? Basically, this is a wide open sandbox, like some of the best Frog God Games, Lamentations of the Flame Princess or Raging Swan Press offerings - what we have here is basically a mini campaign setting, suffuses with encounters and adventure hooks to develop and pursue - and it is actually better off for it, but more on that later; first, let's discuss why this setting is unique.


The world of Torth is not a nice place - beyond Kort'thalis Publishing's emphasis on the mythos and its dark deity-like entities, the first thing a forlorn traveler will note as he arrives on the dunes of these wastelands is the absence of the sun, for, generations ago, the most powerful magic-practitioners of the world utilized the very sun to annihilate the android uprising that sought to end mankind; ever since, Torth's eternal night is illuminated by the 7 moons, which also feature in the way locals measure the time. With the catastrophic cataclysm, the dragons of old vanished and the world would have been doomed to suffer an eternal winter, but thankfully, the planet houses vast catacombs wherein arcano-technical supercomputers generate sufficient heat to stave off this dire fate...at least for now. With civilization in ruins, new settlements have arisen from the bleak sands and one of said cities would be Aryd's End, where the lion's share of this module takes place.


If that sounds awfully scifi for you, then probably because it is...or can be. The emphasis on the technological aspects is subdued enough and one can, should one choose to, alternatively run this as a straight homage of Robert E. Howard-esque Sword & Sorcery - indeed, the cover's rendition of the ruling trio of Aryd's End should drive home pretty well that, beyond the dark aspects in both theme and world-building, this very much could be a place you can find in a given novel by the old greats f the eminent genre. From a fluff-perspective, the general sense of immersion is significantly enhanced by the inclusion of well-structured information on what current Torthians know, which also includes the aforementioned means of tracking time and popular sayings that help depict the natives with sufficient local color.


Compared to other Kort'thalis Publishing-supplements, the supplemental rules provided do feel more streamlined and refined: Two character kits/archetypes are provided with the Shadow Priest and the Wandering Minstrel. Both have in common that they no longer focus exclusively on a narrative function and instead manage to provide abilities (like permanently turning a foe into a shadow, destroying him...until the intervention of another shadow priest...) that drive narratives in an intriguing manner, while also sporting more details: AoEs and a more precise rules-language show the growth of the author. Beyond that, it is my happy duty to state that, beyond OSR, 5th Edition aficionados will have an easy time converting and running this one: With Dis-/advantage and similar terminology strewn in, conversion work is rather simple and fast, particularly regarding the numerous storied magical items featured in this book, which coincidentally also constitute one of my personal highlights in this book: Take e.g. the trident sandstorm, once aligned with the seas, that can now control the very sands. The new spells provided herein suffer, comparatively, a bit from more ambiguity, but radical subjectivism's option to eliminate an item from the perception of those subject to the spell, to give you one example, is pretty awesome.


Now before I go into the spoilerific sections of this review, let me talk about one component: This module is billed as "mature content" and I understand why: Much like the traditional Sword and Sorcery genre, it is a brutal, dark world that is depicted here. At the same time, I never considered the offering excessive in either violence or sexual content - none of the artworks, for example, depict nudity. In fact, most music videos nowadays sport more. As a German, I do not share the experience of cultural sexual stigmatization, but still - I quite frankly have wracked my brain for quite a while and couldn't come up with anything within these pages that could be considered offensive. Sure, it's dark, but Game of Thrones is literally more violent and sexual. Perhaps I'm odd, but I've grown up with Conan-tales and comics and as such, am of the firm conviction that this module should not be considered problematic in any regard. So no, we have neither offensive, nor gratuitous sexuality or violence here - they are themes, of course, but the module handles the whole matter tastefully.


All right, that should cover the basics, onwards to the SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.


...


..


.


All right, still here? Great! This sandbox assumes the PCs will enter Aryd's End via one way or another - and, in its dust-choked streets, it will be only a matter of time before the PCs are drawn into the Byzantine power-games that are played here: 4 tribes with customs etc., one more savage/problematic than the other, esoteric schools and 3 secret societies follow their agendas in the streets and behind silken curtains, as the masked revelers of the city follow they debaucheries and excesses. Within the alleys and roads of Aryd's End, mysterious stranger with golden masks may warn you of Shaitan's brotherhood; you may witness (or even participate) in the conspiracy-driven murder of a noble and be framed for it - and there is so much more to find. The rumor-table sport hooks galore and beyond the walls, giant oozing slug-brains that enslave minds, scorpion-squids and lethal tentacle-armed gorillas await foolish adventurers as just the perfect supplement to their diet.


The streets of Aryd's End are no less dangerous, though - suffused in the tradition of Lovecratiana, the influence of the mythos, from the Yellow King's court to Carcosa, can be felt within the post-apocalyptic streets - but only if you know, where to look. Depending on your tastes, the very world may be o a timer, as a mad sculptor seeks to complete a statue that will usher in the rise of the dread Old Ones and end the world of Torth...and trying to stop him may see you killed in a horrible way...or not. Taking a note from how magic is handled in traditional Sword & Sorcery, there is also the intriguing local drug market to contemplate - where vastly improved arcane power is just one highly addictive drug away...certainly, said drugs have catastrophic repercussions sooner or later, but judging from the former adventurer-junkies, not everyone with magical talent sports common sense.


Speaking of the tropes of classic Sword & Sorcery - it is only a matter of time before capable adventurers like the PCs have to come before barbarian king Dran, his beautiful partner, the seductive Yara (who doesn't wish to ruin her figure - hence her hand-maiden is pregnant...with what may or may not be Dran's child) and the mysterious shadow priest Viraj - let's hope the PCs heed the local custom and attend the audience appropriately blood-spattered and they may actually survive the powerplay going on between the powerful figures at the top of Aryd's End's food-chain...heck, they may even survive a dark elf assassination attempt, if they're capable and lucky! And sometime in the future, who's not to say that they may sit upon that throne themselves, much like a certain Cimmerian?


Perhaps the PCs will also have their chance to stop a berserking head of a summoned elder deity, sent as a magical assassin for some creatures...and in the desert, they may either test their mettle and wits or even begin a relationship with none other than the beautiful Idryssa the Worm Soceress. Of course, more heroically-inclined adventurers may test their mettle against the kidnapping plan of one of the aforementioned secret societies out in the desert...or they may inadvertently awaken the echo of one of the legendary 7 casters of old, upsetting the power-dynamic of the whole region - but all of that, and more, is ultimately up to the players and GM: The seeds are here; the details will happen.


3 well-drawn maps of mini-dungeons partially used in the hooks of this sandbox are btw. also provided in this book.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good, both on a formal and rules-language level, they are more precise than what I've read before by Kort'thalis Publishing - kudos! Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard and the book sports copious absolutely stunning b/w-images strewn through the book. The pdf version f this book has no bookmarks, which is a significant comfort-detriment - I strongly encourage you to get the softcover instead: Beyond the glossy covers, it is a nice book to have in print...and more comfortable to use that way. As mentioned, the cartography provided for the mini-dungeons is nice.


The previous offerings I've read by author Venger As'Nas Satanis are suffused and informed by a thoroughly old-school adherence to heavy-metal aesthetics, spiked with copious amounts of Lovecraftiana, Sword & Sorcery and gonzo weirdness. The latter component is less pronounced in this one: Basically, "Revelry in Torth" is a pretty serious setting/module that could have featured in just about any of the classic tales: The writing is superb, the local color sufficiently raw and the vast plethora of things to do, of threads to explore, renders this book significantly more useful than what you'd expect from a book of its size, with the eye-winking here mostly pertaining nods towards the mythos and other classic tales - like in the original stories.


The blending of subdued sci-fantasy aesthetics, mythos, Conan-esque imagery and post-apocalyptic set-ups is sufficiently unique to lend this its own identity, without restricting its adaptability regarding e.g. the Conan-setting, the World of Xoth or even more mundane fantasy worlds, though, in the latter case, I'd still advise for a plane/world/time-jump: Much of the awesomeness of this book derives from the excellent ideas and local color provided for Aryd's End.


So no complaints apart from the pdf's missing bookmarks? Unfortunately, no - there is one thing I truly would have wished for: A map of Aryd's End. As depicted, and this may be intentional, the city and its revelries feel opaque, hazy, dream-like, almost - a bit like an opium-fueled nightmare between wonder and horror, ecstasy and terror. While a proper map would have somewhat lessened this component, it would have also helped GMs envision the sandbox as a whole, helped kicking off the sandboxy aspects by giving the map to the players and asking: Where do you go from here? Now the good thing is that this is intended as the first trip to Torth, with at least two more waiting somewhere down the line - so we may yet see that.


Still, do not let this deter you from checking this out - even as a scavenging ground of fluff, this is worth the fair asking price: The visuals conjured forth are intriguing and unique and any fan of dark fantasy and sword and sorcery in particular can look forward to this book being a great read. My final verdict hence will clock in at 5 stars, omitting my seal of approval only due to the lack of a city's map. For the electronic version, please detract a star due to the lack of bookmarks...I really recommend the print over the electronic version for this one.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Revelry in Torth
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Mythic Minis 76: Far Eastern Racial Feats
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/04/2015 03:45:11

An Endzeitgeist.com review


All right, you know the deal - 4 pages - 1 page front cover, 1.5 page SRD, 1.5 page content, let's go!


-Blood Beak: Numerical escalation,. bleed on crits and negative conditions on crits. Solid.


-Carrion Feeder: Numerical escalation + mythic power-based rerolls with tier-bonus.


-Life's Blood: Creature gains twice damage you take in hp; additionally, a creature subject to it can gain fast healing if you spend mythic power. The original feat is problematic and so is, by extension, this one.


-Long-Nose Form: Skill-bonuses in long-nose form and spend mythic power for temporary scent-based blindsense.


-Magical tail: Sp-use increase; also spend more uses PLUS mythic power for more powerful effects. Very cool, though the feats grants too early access to some very powerful SPs.


-Realistic Likeness: Numerical escalation and mythic power-based misdirection - pretty cool!


-Scavenger's Eye: Numerical escalation; move action to determine the most valuable item; mythic power-based reroll. Pretty weak.


-Shadowy Dash: Full-speed Stealth (even running) while in dim light or below, even while being observed. Also, use mythic power to trail shadows. Absolutely awesome!


-Sleep Venom: Numerical escalation and additional uses.


There is more on the first SRD-page:


-Spit Venom: Numerical escalation regarding uses per day and faster spitting of poison; if you spit as a full-round action, greatly extend reach based on tier; pay mythic power to AoE-spit - awesome!


-Tengu Raven Form: Better variety via the base feat; switching sizes fluently and additional uses per day via mythic power. Neat!


-Tengu Wings: Fly speed expands and duration as well; Extend this duration at the cost of 1/2 movement. Cool!


-Tree Hanger: Better climbing and no denied Dex-bonus; the bigger the action used, the better your bonus, with mythic power supplementing this.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' 2-column full color standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.


Jeff Lee and Jason Nelson deliver an intriguing mythic mini, which, while not always perfect, does sport some truly inspired mythic feats. Furthermore, the issues I see here are predicated mostly on the base feats (apart from the kitsune's imho a tad bit too strong improved SPs) - but I can't blame the pdf for that. Hence, this one "only" gets a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded still up to 5, though - a great little pdf.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 76: Far Eastern Racial Feats
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Meditations of the Lotus (PFRPG)
Publisher: Amora Game
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/04/2015 03:43:36

An Endzeitgeist.com review


The first small pdf of Meditation feats by Amora Game clocks in at 6 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial 2/3 of a page SRD, leaving us with 3 1/3 pages of content, so let's take a look!


Meditation feats were introduced in Faiths and Philosophies and the feats herein utilize these rules - which are reprinted for your convenience and grouped among the basic lotus position feats - Meditation Master, Body Control and Combat Meditation, to be precise. Beyond that, though, the pdf allows monks to take these feats as bonus feats and similarly Liber Influxus Communis' cool mnemonic class may take them instead of a bonus feat, while mystics may take them instead of a talent - nice to see the pdf be this considerate.


If the above feats do not ring a bell for you, well, then let me fill you in: Basically, you meditate for 1 hour to get a minor floating bonus you can later apply to a single roll over the course of the next 24 hours. Body Control grants a bonus versus poison, disease, starvation and fatigue/exhaustion effects. Both have in common that they are very weak, but flavorful feat-choices. Combat Meditation is more interesting allowing you full-round action meditation, granting the benefits of all meditation feats, but only for 1 round per level you have. This one is the interesting one that demands to be upgraded and this pdf does just that. So yes, while basically not perfect, we'll see what Amora Game did with these.


First, the feats herein are grouped by Yoga practices, the first group being the Sun Salutation.


-Body Mending: Gain Fast Healing 1 while subject to Combat Meditation's duration. Fitting for some groups, though it may result in problems in others: While slow, this still represents unlimited healing at levels 5+ - which I consider highly problematic in spite of the feat-tax.


-Chakra Disruption: After using Combat Meditation, you may deal 1 point of Str or Dex damage or with an unarmed strike or cause the target to be unable to spend grit, ki or panache for 1 round - and if using Ultimate Psionics or Liber Influxus Communis, the feat does have synergy here - nice.


-Center Focus: Gain 1 ki point through meditation, even when not having a ki pool, +1 if you also have Extra Ki, though you may not surpass the maximum of your pool, if available. This one is problematic, since it takes a restricted resource and makes it an unlimited resource at least if my reading is correct and Combat meditation allows for the use of this feat to grant temporary ki. I do like that e.g. Dragon Tiger Ox's ki-based shenanigans can be combined well with this one, but still - I advise caution regarding this feat.


-Circulatory Control: For 24 hours after meditating, you may utilize concentration to delay the onset of poison/bleed. Cool one!


-Contemplative Endurance: Meditate as a full-round action, losing 1 point of ki, but gaining 3 points of stamina that need to be spent within character level rounds.


-Contemplative Maneuver: Select one combat maneuver after meditation; thereafter, you may perform it 3 times immediately after a failed attack against you sans provoking an AoO. In Combat Meditation, you don't get additional uses, but may switch maneuver. Absolutely awesome little feat!


-Controlled Emotions: Reroll a Will-save versus a fear-effect once after meditation. Pretty weak.


-External Power: Select a Ki Power or Technique you meet the prereqs for; you can use it at character level monk levels; You can power the power or technique via grit.


-Gritty Thoughts: Meditate to use ki to fuel grit/panache. Cool one, though the ki-regain mentioned in a previous feat can make this nasty.


-Heroic Thoughts: Use ki to gain a temporary hero point.


-Innate Yang: +1 atk, +4 crit confirmation, with bonuses scaling the more meditation feats you have.


-Innate Yin: +Wis-mod AC, sclaes via meditation feats you have and stacks with other Wis-based insight bonuses to AC like that of the monk.


-Last Efforts: When dropping below 0 HP, automatically stabilize and perform one combat meditation - for the duration you are treated as though you have 1 hp and may act as normal - basically, you are immortal until the meditation ends, with damage etc. being postponed to the end of the meditation...as well as healing. The feat's last sentence has a glitch in the sentence structure, but its intents remain clear. Nice high-level feat!


-Living Sword Technique: Choose Craft or Profession and use your RANKS in such a skill in place of BAB - cool one and proof versus magic-boost abuse.


-Sound of Waves: Gain Sonic and Force resistance (!!!) 5.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are still good: On a formal level, there is not much to complain, though there are some minor hiccups in the rules-language. Layout adheres to a nice, printer-friendly two-column full-color standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.


Greg LaRose has grown tremendously as a designer and this pdf shows that; while the rules-language is not always perfect, my gripes almost universally pertain purely aesthetic minor hiccups that do not negatively influence the rules - kudos! Also: The high-level immortality-feat is awesome.


I am a bit torn here - on the one hand, vanilla monks can use the feats herein and in such games, the feats herein should cause no problems. If you're like me, though, and have books with ki-powered weapons, rays powered by it etc., then making ki an unlimited resource can break your game's balance, depending on the power level you're gunning for. Still, this is by far not a bad pdf you can get for a more than fair, low price - hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform -a quintessential mixed bag, slightly on the positive side.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Meditations of the Lotus (PFRPG)
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Midgard Bestiary (13th Age Compatible)
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/03/2015 04:01:34

An Endzeitgeist.com review


The 13th Age version of the Midgard Bestiary clocks in at 110 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 104 pages of content, so let's take a look!


Well, we begin this book with a brief introduction on how it came to be and a handy ToC-style list of the creatures featured herein before we dive straight into a significant array of creatures that Midgard-aficionados will recognize quite a few of the adversaries featured within these pages - beyond a simple enumeration of creatures from the Midgard Bestiary, we actually receive more than a few pieces of content exclusive for this iteration of the book - which conversely also allows for quite a bunch of the classic modules in Kobold Press' catalog to be easily converted to 13th Age.


However, the inspiring component of this book cannot be exclusively be found in the monsters themselves - as you know, statblocks of 13th Age adversaries do not tend to be marvels of complexity. It is in the details that things get proper and interesting -at least for me. You see, the creatures featured herein take more than a passing cue from 13th Age's innovations. Beyond multiple creatures for humanoid races, with often varying abilities, the book also sports a rather impressive array of supplemental material - from nastier specials to, yes, magic items. This, for example, renders the notoriously cool in concept, but bland in execution Alseids (centaurs with deer-like lower bodies) interesting - and the girdle's quirk of only allowing for the consumption of rain water, can have some rather interesting side effects. From clockwork creatures to Arbonesse exiles, the author has gone above and beyond to properly represent some of the most unique components of Midgard with the proper care and diligence regarding the mechanical effects.


Deadly mosses and the iconic darakhul feature herein alongside lethal swarms and the iconic derro fetal servant is herein as well, though in this iteration, I consider it a bit weaker than its PFRPG-version. New devils, from the gilded servants of Mammon to the ink-stained agents of Titivillius and Niemheinian gnomes that may or may not serve them, provide ample fodder for stories envisioning hellish vistas. A selection of drakes (including the hilarious alehouse drake) can be found herein alongside the fabled ghost boar of the Ringwood and the riders of Marena and the vril-powered bows using goblins of the wasted west certainly are intriguing, though I do bemoan that these guys do not get a cool mutation table akin to the chaos beast and chimera's versatile treatment in 13th Age's superb Bestiary.


The eye-eating insectoid Horakh and the ship-smashing Isonade have found their ways inside the pages alongside diverse kobolds, from ghetto guards and their dire weasels to their owl-riding sergeants. Mharoti dragonkin and the eldritch masters of Allain complement Roachlings and Rothenian Centaurs and obviously, neither gearforged nor shadowfey should miss here - all in all, the selection sure is awesome, if a bit humanoid-centric for my tastes.


This is not where the bestiary ends, though: There are 9 new player-races here and they generally fall into one of two categories: Simple or complex. Centaurs, Gnolls, Minotaurs and Roachlings generally are rather solid and easy to grasp - with a racial power and some minor feat-chocies, they are solid, though the nitpicker in me still would have loved to see the pdf specifically mention that roachlings do not get additional magic item slots for their additional limbs.


The undead, ghoulish darakhul would be slightly more complicated, obviously having no Con-score. The lethal bite, which scales with level, could have been tied to the weapon scaling of classes, but that may be my thing. Similarly, the construct-like gearforged are pretty complex - but their complete lack of recoveries and reliance on being repaired makes them glass cannons. Worse, does their lack of ability to use recoveries to heal also extends to class abilities, talents and the like? It's certainly a minor thing, but still. Goblins of the Wasted West, Kobolds and Ravenfolk are pretty cool, though. An okay section, though one I'm a bit wary of some races herein.


Where the pdf once again becomes awesome (and indeed non-optional for any 13th Age Midgard-campaign) is with the final section by Wade Rockett: Midgard Icons. Yes, we get a full-blown write-up of icons for Midgard and they universally surpass those featured in the Dragon Empire: From Baba Yaga to Regia Moonthorn Kalthania-Reln van Dornig and the Dragon Sultana; the emperor of ghouls; Cadua's first duke, the master of demon mountain and the illuminated brotherhood: The icons presented here are absolutely GLORIOUS - not only do they draw perfectly on Midgard's unique, awesome fluff, they actually are multi-faceted, brilliant creatures that go one step beyond the one-dimensional archetype of the regular icons. Where 13th Age's default icons are currently slowly moving away from being cardboard cut-outs (see 13th Age Monthly: Echo and Gauntlet, for example), here we already have a cadre of full-developed, inspired icons, including True Dangers, allies, common knowledge and the like - this chapter is just brilliant.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful, printer-friendly two-column full-color standard with plenty of neat full color artworks. On the nitpicky side, there is quite a bit of blank space on some pages, where obviously artworks or more content could fit. ;) The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience


Ash Law and Wade Rockett deliver an excellent array of converted creatures herein - and while I'm not 100% content with all of the racial options provided, that still leaves a significant amount of inspired adversaries AND the excellent Midgard-icons, rendering this book practically non-optional for Midgard games utilizing the 13th Age-rules. My final verdict will hence clock in at well-deserved 5 stars.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Midgard Bestiary (13th Age Compatible)
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Mythic Minis 75: Orc Feats
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/03/2015 04:00:21

An Endzeitgeist.com review


All right, you know the deal - 3 pages - 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page content, let's go!


-Born Alone: Gain 2x Con-bonus temporary hit points for tier rounds when killing a foe. Anti-kitten caveat makes me a happy reviewer. :)


-Bullying Blow: +tier to Intimidate; add mythic power for worse fear-conditions and a kind of intimidate-cleave. Solid.


-Ferocious Action: Roll to stabilize when dealing damage in melee AND gain 1/2 tier hp when you hit, to a maximum of 1 hp. Nice one!


-Foment the Blood: Numerical escalation and AoE orc-heal via mythic power.


-Grudge Fighter: Numerical escalation.


-Orc Weapon Expertise: Benefits with orc weapons increase, depending on benefits chosen; cool one that feature both numerical escalation and new mythic power-based tactical options, for disruptor e.g. using mythic power to add to your AoOs versus spells/SPs. Really neat one!


-Resolute Rager: Use the feat versus any emotion-based effects, but gain bonuses and may expend mythic power to resist fear.


-Reverse-feint: Swift action activation and counterattack via free action, but you may use move/immediate actions for bonuses. Cool!


-Trap Wrecker: Use this feat instead of a melee attack; when used as a standard action, you get numerical escalation; for mythic power, you can wreck magical traps.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' 2-column full color standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.


Jeff Lee, Jonathan H. Keith and Jason Nelson's Orc feats are inspired, diverse, sport unique benefits and can be considered an all-out well-crafted installment of the series - well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 75: Orc Feats
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Mythic Minis 74: Half-Orc Feats
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/03/2015 03:57:40

An Endzeitgeist.com review


All right, you know the deal - 3 pages - 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page content, let's go!


-Beats Rider: Monstrous animal companion gains mythic rank, +1 once you reach tier 10.


-Blood Vengeance: Increased crit range + bleed damage versus target of Blood Vengeance, including stacking bleed damage on crits; also allows for move action Intimidate, potentially supplemented by tier.


-Destroyer's Blessing: Regain only one round of rage per round, but heal damage when breaking objects or mitigate exhaustion/negate fatigue/heal ability damage.


-Ferocious Resolve: +tier to negative HP threshold; use mythic power to negate staggered condition while below 0 Hp and also gain Intimidate bonus.


-Ferocious Summons: Summoned creatures get the blood rage universal monster ability.


-Ferocious Tenacity: Use feat more than once per day, with rounds of rage expenditure decreasing damage. This one is pretty awesome!


-Gore Fiend: Increase moral benefits when criting in melee or being crited while in rage, stacking. up to a maximum of your normal morale bonus.


-Horde Charge: Numerical Escalation + Charge Through added and better AC when charging.


-Surprise Follow-Through: When hitting more than one creature via Cleave/Great Cleave, render one creature flat-footed.


-Improved Surprise Follow-Through: When using Great Cleave, all foes you hit are treated as flat-footed until hit/your next turn. This one is very powerful...but also damn cool.


-Resilient Brute: Use the feat whenever you take damage, not only in response to crits and use it additional times, powered via mythic power. Non-mythic creatures only deal 75% damage against you as nonlethal when using this feat.


-Sympathetic Rage: Maintain rage while close to an ally raging and use mythic power to retain rage while switching from eligible ally to eligible ally - situational, but very powerful.


There is more to be found on the SRD-page:


-Tenacious Survivor: Higher Threshold before dying and use mythic power to prevent gaining negative levels with a means to be saved even when killed. Awesome one!


-Thrill of the Kill: Regain rounds of rage and also gain free mythic surges, but both must be spend before one round has elapsed, avoiding balance-issues here. Additionally, mythic foes defeated allow for (very) limited mythic power regains.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' 2-column full color standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.


Jason Nelson and Jeff Lee provide a nice array of half-orc feats herein that run the gamut from okay to being awesome - particularly the defensive feats contained herein are pretty much awesome and should prove useful indeed in mythic games. All in all, a nice pdf that deserves a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 74: Half-Orc Feats
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What Lies Beyond Reason Player's Guide
Publisher: Pyromaniac Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/02/2015 04:37:04

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This freshman offering by Pyromaniac Press clocks in at 18 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover/KS-advertisement, leaving us with 14 pages, so let's take a look!


We begin this player's guide with a brief introduction of the fully statted eternal city of Anduria, which is btw. also featured in the rather neat map of the lands surrounding its monolithic, titanic walls. Anduria...ringed by 100 feet high walls of unknown, strange stone featuring enigmatic bas-reliefs of strange robed figures (stunningly rendered in the prequel-module, btw.!), a patchwork of the old and new, with its canals and even single building sporting different architectural styles, certainly is a metropolis that can be called fantastic in the best of ways and the players reading this guide will get to know at least the basics about the diverse wards within these colossal walls.


Since adventurers are prone to seek out taverns for employ, trouble and ale, 10 particular taverns are spotlighted in aptly-written, concise prose and the reader of this pdf will also be filled in on the government and the guild-driven power-structure within the city...and obviously, as a consequence, also be able to familiarize oneself with the guilds, both great and small - the respective write-ups sport names, primary services rendered, the guild master, membership requirements and benefits and thus a massive array of potential roleplaying opportunities.


Both daily life in the massive city and its culture is well represented, including the relatively humane punitive measures employed within the city for law-breakers - and yes, this section also mentions common strategies to weasel out of a law-based predicament.


Local "pests", psychic motes and transportation within the city's confines is covered as well and a brief note on surrounding areas is also featured here. The second section features thankfully spoiler-free advice for making characters that actually will be useful in the campaign, including suggestions for bloodlines, etc. Anduria, being a tolerant city, does not extend this tolerance to the divine, thus, such characters may require to hide their calling (If you want to know why, that's explained in the plot of the AP in more detail...) and new skill uses to this effect as well as ones that let you navigate the city's red tape are provided.


The pdf ends with a couple of per se pretty solid traits, though I do have some complaints here: There is no such thing as "Arcane" or "Divine" traits - the proper types would be "Faith" and "Magic". Additionally, the bonuses granted in one of the traits lack the trait-type - though the other traits get it right.
Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are pretty good, particularly for a freshman offering - the rules-language, where present, is pretty concise and the prose is well-crafted. There are sometimes minor glitches that make single lines a bit wobbly-looking in the rendition, but this remains the exception. Layout adheres to a nice 2-column two-color standard. The pdf comes sans bookmarks, which is okay at this brief length. The map and one piece of artwork is nice (and believe me - the Prequel's art is NEAT!). One peculiarity that annoyed me is the non-standard formatting of skills: It's not "Profession: Lawyer", it's "Profession (Lawyer)" -cosmetic, I know, but still...


This player's guide does a great job - for one, it does not spoil anything; it also does make you excited about the massive metropolis and its unique social structure and options and is a nice hint at the things to come. As a freshman offering, this is pretty impressive...and it's free. Granted, the file is massive (118 MBs), but in my book, being pay what you want does offset the minor hiccups that can be found here. So please, take a look, download and read this and check out the Kickstarter if you like what you're seeing! My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
What Lies Beyond Reason Player's Guide
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Three Swordsmen
Publisher: Kort'thalis Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/02/2015 04:33:45

An Endzeitgeist.com review


This FREE little pdf clocks in at 6 pages, 1 page editorial, leaving 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!


We begin with a nice introduction to the matter at hand and then are introduced to the Templar Knight. These guys must be lawful and may deflect an amount of damage equal to his level plus the sword's enhancement, but the decision to deflect the attack must be made before the results of the damage-roll are made known. If the fighter also reconsecrates and reforges his sword in a ceremony, the character may also add his Strength-modifier to the amount of damage deflected.


1/day, he may also sway the undecided, up to character level of NPCs, to his side of the argument. At 3rd level, he may 1/day attack twice in a round, +1/day every 3 levels thereafter and at 12th level, he may always make 2 attacks per round.


The second swordsman-kit herein is the Slayer, who needs to be neutral. 1/day, when wielding an iconic blade (e.g. tempered by dragon fire), he may declare a hit a critical. When a slayer kills a foe, he may 1/day attack an additional opponent, +1/day at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter, up until 15th level, hen he may always do that. He gets the same two-attacks-per round progression as the templar.


The third kit, the Reaver, needs to be chaotic. For each foe killed or mortally wounded, the reaver penalizes her foes' attacks by the number of felled foes, up to the max bonus of the reaver's blade. Per se nice idea, but when does the counter reset? A precise duration would have been nice, otherwise you can just kill a bunch of kittens... Attacking dazed, stunned blinded, prone, fallen, subdued, unconscious or unaware are particularly endangered by the reaver: Reavers get + atk and damage against such foes. The reaver gets the same additional attack progression as the previous two kits.


Finally, the book ends with a cool table that represents blades of fallen heroes awakening with special powers - this table is fun and awesome.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glaring glitches. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports one great b/w-artwork per swordsman. The pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length.


The kits provided herein can be considered well-crafted, if not particularly unique: The templar is certainly the most captivating of the kits in this pdf. The other two basically sport mechanics from more current editions of the system, translated to OSR, but done so in a pretty precise way, considering the need to provide support for different variants of OSR-rules. The reaver has slight flaws in its details and feels a bit weaker than the other two, but overall, this pdf is well-crafted. And it's FREE. Free pdfs are hard to beat, particularly when the "fallen PC's blade"-table alone is an awesome reason to download this free book, even when playing in other systems and requiring some inspiration. As such, I feel justified in awarding this 5 stars + seal of approval - this is well worth the download.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Three Swordsmen
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Mythic Minis 73: Gnome and Halfling Feats
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/02/2015 04:30:47

An Endzeitgeist.com review


All right, you know the deal - 3 pages - 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page content, let's go!


-Adaptive Fortune: Numeric escalation in both uses per day and potency; additionally, use mythic power to treat a roll as a natural 20...not a big fan of the latter.


-Blundering Defense: +1/2 dodge bonus as luck bonus when fighting defensively; scaling affect on allies as well. The latter is at the same time nasty and cool.


-Casual Illusionist: +3/+6 (at 10th level) bonus to Bluff/disguise/Sleight of Hand and concentration for illusion spells while retaining racial SPs. Okay.


-Cautious Fighter: +4 when fighting defensively/using total defense (why no better total defense?) plus use mythic power to combine withdraw with an attack - interesting one, in spite of minor gripe on my side.


-Courageous Resolve: Decrease severity of common fear-based effects (not including cowering); expend mythic power to reroll saves versus spells and effects that do not result in the common fear-based conditions - neat potential life-saver.


-Desperate Swing: Adds a 5-foot-step to the feat and sans taking the move, allows you to vital strike, Deadly Stroke and similarly hassle the foe or ignore the -4 penalty. (Which sports a box instead of the minus in a minor formatting glitch); additional uses via mythic power render this a good, tactically versatile option that validates a couple of builds.


-Expanded Resistance: +2 schools and numerical escalation for racial bonus as well as twice surge die rolls with saves versus the schools - powerful and interesting.


-Fortunate One: +1/2 tier uses of adaptable luck; also expend a use of adaptable luck to maximize surge die; cool mechanic.


-Gnome Weapon Focus: +1 atk with "gnome" weapons; also gain +1/2 tier to atk for 1 mythic power, including Experimental Gunsmith weapons - which is damn cool.


-Great Hatred: Numerical escalation and apply bonus versus charm and fear effects; use mythic power to reroll save versus the like. Okay, I guess.


-Improved Low Blow: Better bonus on crit confirmation if the target's larger than you; use mythic power to reroll such rolls more than once per day. Okay one.


-Lucky Healer: Spend adaptive luck to roll twice when healing and take the better result for all healing effects for 1/2 tier rounds; additionally, use mythic power to reroll CL-checks required by some conjuration (healing)-spells. Brilliant feat for the healers and mechanically interesting - two thumbs up!


This is not where we stop, though - there is much more on the SRD-page:


-Lucky Strike: Adaptive luck spend to reroll damage twice and take the better result; use mythic power for maximized output. (And yes, weapon damage does not include skrimishing or sneak attack, just so you know...)


-Risky Striker: Numerical escalation and use mythic power to ignore the penalty for tier rounds.


-Sure and Fleet: +4 Acrobatics and Climb and full movement when using Acrobatics through narrow, slippery etc. terrain; use mythic power to prevent the loss of Dex when climbing or using Acrobatics for 1 minute. Per se cool, but I'd have loved to see the duration scale.


-Surprise Strike: Deny the target Dex-mod versus your attack. Use it additional times per day via mythic power. Personally, I would have loved a more complex interaction with uncanny dodge et al. here, but that may just be me.


-Uncanny Defense: Add dodge bonus for fighting defensively/total defense to CMD and Ref-saves - two thumbs up here: We need better defense options.


-Vast Hatred: Select 3 creature types and increase hatred bonuses by 1.


Conclusion:


Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' 2-column full color standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.


Jason Nelson, Jeff Lee, Jonathan H. Keith - gentlemen, you have crafted a surprisingly cool little supplement for the small races here. The emphasis on luck and defense in particular makes the two races feel much more hardy than what one would expect and while not all of the feats herein are winners, there are some pretty awesome options herein - hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 by a margin.


Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 73: Gnome and Halfling Feats
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